Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, November 5, 2014

The moment the final gun is sounded in the Ohio State at Michigan State game, speculation will commence on if the winner will deserve a spot in the College Football Playoff.

The more I look at things, I think it might be tough for the Big Ten to get a team in the playoff. Yes, it could happen. In fact, I have the Spartans in the playoff in my latest Bowl Projections. But, after seeing the Spartans drop in the College Football Playoff Poll last night after a bye week, I'm starting to think the conference might need help in the form of attrition by others. Simply just ?winning out? probably won?t be enough. The Big Ten doesn?t control its own destiny.


There aren?t a lot of sexy matchups in the Penn State at Indiana game. But it will be fun to watch the killer Nittany Lions run defense battle star RB Tevin Coleman.

Bob Flounders of notes that Coleman pretty much is the Indiana offense as the Big Ten's leading rusher with 1,300 yards and an 8.0-yards-per-carry average. The Nittany Lions' rush defense is ranked No. 1 in the country. PSU, led by linebacker Mike Hull and defensive tackles Austin Johnson and Anthony Zettel, has allowed just 617 rushing yards in eight games. Opponents are averaging just 2.3 yards per carry.

Penn State coach James Franklin said Coleman compares favorably with a former SEC star.

"He kind of reminds us of (Darren) McFadden, who used to be at Arkansas, a little bit," Franklin said.

Spot-on comparison.


Melvin Gordon dominates the headlines for Wisconsin. Makes sense. The guy is a legit Heisman contender. But sidekick Corey Clement is starting to gain notice, notes Andy Baggot of the Wisconsin State Journal. Good. Because he?s, well, good.

While Gordon ranks second nationally, averaging 162 rushing yards per game and totaling 19 TDs to remain in the Heisman Trophy discussion, Clement has averaged 128.3 yards rushing over his past three outings.

?My coaches are allowing me to get back in a groove,? said Clement, who?s on pace to top 1,000 yards rushing. ?I?m just trying to show what I?m capable of doing.?


For a second week in a row, Michigan will go to great lengths to prevent an opponent from stealing its defensive signals.

"What they do is they get up above and they watch you signal," said Wolverines defensive coordinator Greg Mattison of the Hoosiers. "Then when they see you signal, they call on their headsets from upstairs over to the other sideline and they tell them what you're going to run."

Indiana runs a no-huddle, hurry-up offense, affording it extra time on the play clock to observe opposing coaches and call countering plays, according to Mattison.

Mattison went on to say:

"Anybody that runs a no-huddle and runs a fast pace, I believe has (signal stealing) in them. That's not unethical. That's part of what this has become. That's part of running that offense. You look at Ohio (State), they do the same thing. I think there are a lot of people that do that. Any way you can make it harder on them, that's what you do with the towels."



 Northwestern needs a lot of things on offense. One is some good young talent at wideout. Is there any?


The upcoming Iowa at Minnesota may be the most significant battle for Floyd of Rosedale in years. There is really something at stake-which is kinda rare in this series–as each team is jockeying for position in the Big Ten West.

Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette says the Iowa-Minnesota tiff is part of a ?Big Ten West Tournament? that?s just beginning. And, he?s correct. You want a college football playoff, this is it. The Big Ten West has four contenders - Nebraska (8-1, 3-1 B1G), Iowa (6-2, 3-1), Minnesota (6-2, 3-1) and Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1). The rest of the season, these four teams will face each other in what amounts to a round-robin tournament. This is gonna be fun.


Rutgers has several issues on offense. But the biggest may be up front on the line, notes

"When you have a day offensively like we did, we're going to look at that film and see a lot of reasons," coach Kyle Flood said. "It starts up front, there's no doubt, it always starts up front."

The offensive line's struggles have coincided with the team's three-game losing streak. After allowing just eight sacks through the first six games, Rutgers has surrendered nine sacks in the last three games. Additionally, opposing defenses have 11 quarterback hurries during that span, including the hit on Gary Nova that led to the starting QB's knee injury in a 42-24 loss to Nebraska on Oct. 25. A lot of this has to do with the foes RU has faces: Ohio State; Nebraska; Wisconsin. Not many lines will look good vs. those teams.


Nice read from Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune on coaching searches that includes a look at the Minnesota hoops search that netted Richard Pitino.


It was pretty cool to see how Michigan State treated former Spartan hoopster Russell Byrd, who was back on campus for an exhibition hoops game with his new school: The Master's College. Byrd was cheered and he even kissed the Spartan logo.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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